I've decided to rename my end-of-season highlights by designating a new sports award similar to ESPN's ESPY awards. I am going to call them the "Richies" to designate the top athletes I have observed this fall. It comes with a handshake and recognition for a job well done.
This fall's "Richies" go to:
The 1,000 Yard Club
- Lodi sophomore running back Jordan Perkins, whose 1,300 yards rushing and 7.65 yards per carry average was good for 10 touchdowns despite nagging knee injuries that kept him out of all or parts of several games for the 6-4 Flames this season.
- Galt senior running back Trevor Alcoriza, who led the Warriors with 1,039 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 6.75 a carry to help Galt rebound from a pair of dismal 1-9 records the past two years to a respectable 5-5.
The 2,000 Yard Club
- Lodi native and St. Mary's star senior quarterback Cody Vaz, who was quite simply the best passer in the Sac-Joaquin Section this year. The 6-2, 205-pound Vaz, who has signed a national letter of intent to play for Oregon State, completed 148-of-233 passes for 2,411 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Rams.
His best game came against Tokay, when he was 14-of-18 for 320 yards and four touchdowns - in just one half.
- Senior setter Heather Buzo of Tokay, who quarterbacked the Lady Tigers into the section playoffs with a team-high 504 assists for an average of 6.5 per game. She also led the team with 64 serving aces this season.
- Sophomore attacker Nicole Buzo, also of Tokay and the younger sister of Heather, who led the Tigers in kills with 256. She was second on the team in assists (116) blocks (17) and aces (59).
- Senior Erin DeSnayer of Lodi, whose all-around game led the Flames into the section playoffs. She was first in aces (46), second in kills (138) digs (264) and serve receiving (119).
- Samantha Balentine of the Lady Flames. This high-flying leaper led Lodi in kills (147) and blocks (145) at the net.
- David Brock and Kevin Schuh led Lodi to a league championship and a victory in the first round of the playoffs. Both were named to the all-league first team.
- Calvin Watt and Danny Kemether led the Tigers to a second-place finish in the league standings and a playoff berth and both were first-team picks on the all-league team.
- Emily Schuh and Amanda Jorgenson led the Lady Flames into the playoffs and both were named to the all-league first team.
- Julie Sawyer and Stephanie Kuwahara helped the Tigers earn a playoff berth. Sawyer was named league Co-MVP and Kuwahara was a first-team pick.
- Lodi's Zach McCarthy bounced back from a broken collarbone and nearly guided the Flames into the playoffs. He was named to the all-league first team and teammate Jorge Diaz, who directed a stout defense, was named Goalkeeper of the Year.
- Tim Rusher didn't have the best stats, but his play in goal kept Tokay competitive and earned him Goalkeeper of the Year honors. Heber Tinoco was a first-team selection.
- The Galt girls placed second at the section meet and earned the program's first trip to the state meet, led by Lauren Petersen, Sam Walling, Alison Motor, Kelsea Tiapon and Ashley Hurst.
- Elliot's Megan Crutchfield qualified for the state meet.
- Lodi's Aaron Cardinio won the league meet.
- Elliot's Andrew Cotton placed sixth at the section meet.
- Tokay's Holly Rankin was the league champion.
- Lodi's Jordan Rodriguez placed 19th at the section meet.
- Lodi's Kercia Brakel led the Flames to a league title while winning the SJAA tourney for the second straight year. She just missed qualifying for the NorCal championships.
- Tokay's Alyssa Musto placed second at the TCAL league tourney and led the Tigers to a playoff berth.
- Galt's Riley Sexton was the individual champion at the SVC league tourney.
- Lodi's Alison Simon led the Flames to a league title and playoff berth and reached the league singles final. Her teammates Jacque Lord and Anna Adams won the league doubles championship.
- Galt's Christina Phillips led the Warriors to a playoff berth and was named league MVP.
That's it, congratulations to the "Richie" winners. See you after the winter sports season.